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Reusing Items is a Win – Win

October 18, 2021

It’s Waste Reduction Week in Canada and a great opportunity to reflect on what we can do to reduce our waste, as individuals and as a college community.  On campus, there are programs for recycling paper, containers, batteries, markers, etc.  But what about furniture and equipment that RRC Polytech no longer needs?  What happens to chairs that are replaced, drill presses that are upgraded or desks from vacated office spaces? 

We are proud to say that most of these items are reused.  They are reused within the College, sent for auction or donated to local organizations.  So far in 2021, we have reused, auctioned or donated over 1,900 furniture items and over 3.5 tonnes of books and household items.  Reusing items is an important part of the College’s zero waste program and it reduces our carbon footprint.  Reusing items provides a way to extend their useful life and often saves money, energy and natural resources – a win for the College and the environment! For Waste Reduction Week, we compiled a list of the top 3 stories of reuse at the College for 2021:

#1 The Great Office Cleanout

The Language Training Centre (LTC) in the Via Rail station had 30 years of furniture, equipment, books (and many 1990’s board games) to sort through to prepare to move to the Innovation Centre. Thanks to the effort of Materials Management, Space Planning and the LTC staff, over 1,250 furniture items including desks, tables, chairs and cabinets were given a new life, including 440 furniture items donated to schools in Winnipeg and northern Manitoba. Susan Darazsi, Principal of Strathcona school, talks about the benefit of the furniture donation:

“On behalf of Strathcona School, I would like to thank Red River College for the extremely generous furniture donation. We have been able to use the chairs and individual student desks in the grade 4-6 classrooms. The comfy couch and chairs, along with the shelving units and tables have been used to create a family room. Additionally, the cupboard and filing cabinets are being used in our Literacy Lab to organize reading materials and resources.”

Another school used the furniture to rebuild their learning spaces as they recovered from a fire. 

In addition, over 3.5 tonnes of household items including clothing, dishes, binders and over one thousand books were donated to Centre Flavie-Laurent, a local non-profit organization that provides items to people for free and serves up to 500 families per week. 

#2 Reusing in Residence

At Paterson GlobalFoods Institute (PGI), the Campus Living office runs several reuse programs to minimize items sent to landfill. Gently used mattresses are donated to local organizations. Household items such as brooms, dishes, kettles, etc. that students leave behind are organized, cleaned and made available for new students to use. A great way to encourage a culture of reuse for the residents! Dale Kujanpaa, Manager of Campus Living, talks about the reuse program at PGI residence:

“The reuse program started over 5 years ago at PGI and has been very beneficial to the students living in residence.  Located in the 7th floor lounge, students can find items that are relevant to their suites, such as cutlery, clothing, hangers, school supplies and more.  Many of these items would be headed towards the landfill, but now they can be reused by the next group of students!”

#3 Binders, Binders and More Binders

With various RRC processes going paperless, many staff are tidying up their spaces and clearing out old paperwork (do the contents of your filing cabinet spark joy?). This leads to many, many boxes of binders and other office supplies that are longer needed.  These items are donated to the Students’ Association or local organizations for reuse.  We continue to look for creative ways to make these items available to students on an ongoing basis. 

From podiums to toolboxes, bookshelves to stretchers, binders to mattresses, reusing items is an important part of our journey to become a Zero Waste campus.  When items are reused and kept out of the landfill, everybody wins.